Monthly Archives: July 2007

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Old Photographs.

In preparation for my trip to Nebraska/Iowa, which we will embark on this Wednesday, I finished a project that I began in 2004.

My Great Aunt Edith (my dad’s aunt) is a lady that I met for the first time as a pre-teen. I was a late bloomer, so being a pre-teen was an awkward stage for me. It wasn’t helped any by the teasing of other girls my age, as I was shy when I changed for P.E. class, changing in the bathroom stall instead of out with the other girls. One girl decided to see what the fuss was about and stood on the toilet in the stall next to me, peering over. She made the amused comment, announcing to the other girls regarding my pre-pubescent breasts of, “Hey, look at those little raisins!” While I do take some consolation now in the fact that my figure is fairly decent and I no longer have “little raisins”, (and who knows what she looks like now) that memory still makes me shake my head at the idiocy and cruelty of that girl.

When I met my Great Aunt Edith, I remember that she made me feel intelligent, accepted, embraced and encouraged. I remember looking at her and thinking she was the most beautiful lady in the whole world. I was amazed at the beautiful color of her hair and even asked her how it was that she kept it so pretty. Her response was, “I give it lots of loving care.” Which makes me giggle to myself now, because Loving Care is a Clairol hair coloring product and I had no idea. I really thought she gave it lots of loving care. Every pre-teenage girl should have an Aunt Edith in their life to help them through that awkward stage of budding womanhood.

Anyway, in 2004, I borrowed my Edith’s pictures from my Aunt Marj who had been keeping them since Edith’s death in 1994. It has been a somewhat overwhelming task that I took on, scanning pictures that someone had collected throughout their life and I hardly think this is all of them. It’s interesting going through her pictures, knowing that I am related to her. She was obviously a loving person, a strong person and took great joy from her brother’s family and his children & grandchildren. Indeed, many of her pictures are of them gathered around the dinner table, laughing. Yet, despite having had three husbands, as far as I know, she never had children of her own.

In her youth, she was the epitome of “beautiful”, and the pictures taken of her reflect her knowledge of that. It would be hard to not know your own beauty. As she grew older, the contents in the pictures changed. Oh, sure, there were still photographs of her, even candid ones and she was still beautiful. But I wonder if you were to look at them, would you see her beauty or would you see an aged woman? Or perhaps both?

What I noticed most about the pictures taken of her as the Edith I knew, the elderly Edith, is that those around her were enveloped in … her. Who she was. She surrounded those around her in her love, her arms, her laughter. Authentic smiles, not posed, are what the camera captured. They captured a woman who was comfortable in her own skin, a woman who accepted herself, imperfections and all. For if one accepts themselves as they are each moment of the day, does that kind of acceptance also not reach out to those in your life?

Do we learn to smile with our eyes when we realize that beauty comes, not from paper thin skin and the way it sets upon our bones, but rather from within and the way our self-acceptance settles in our heart, and projects who we are? Physical beauty is fleeting, a mere blink of an eye. True beauty comes from how we treat others and what legacy we will leave behind.

Do you ever wonder what legacy you will leave? I do.

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Sea World Experience.

It was Sunday night and I sat on the floor of the guest room with my laptop, burning a CD pf pictures taken this past weekend for my mom to take with her. She was packing her suitcase, trying to fit the explosion that had somehow occurred in that room into a 2.5′ x 1.5′ case. There were too few hours left of her visit here and most of them would be consumed with sleeping. My mom kept telling me to “go on to bed, you’ve gotta work in the morning…” But I wanted her to have those pictures and I wanted to spend a few extra minutes with her, even if we were both focused on our individual projects.

Two nights earlier, Friday evening, we had driven down to San Diego county. In the past, I’ve used Priceline with great results, staying in hotels that charge $200+ per night for a whopping bargain price of $75 per night. This time, however, I struck out. Priceline put us in an Extended Stay America hotel, and upon check-in, ESA put us in a smoking room with a queen bed and no extra cots were available. To further the travesty, I forgot to ask the desk clerk for the Internet password upon check-in and they closed the lobby at 11 PM. Three people, two of whom are very tall, one queen bed and none of us smoke. And No Internet. To say that the room didn’t fit our needs was a gross understatement.

Saturday morning found us finishing the drive to Sea World where our adventure for the day began with Breakfast with Shamu. We were seated at an awesome table, right beside the pool. The food was served buffet style, with everything my stomach could have possibly desired. Even my mom was temporarily full — long-time readers will remember that my mom is a non-stop eater, and it’s nearly impossible to fill her up! Thankfully, the “interaction” part — where the trainers send the whales off to do their tricks — didn’t start until after we finished eating. I say thankfully, because being that close to the pool and slide-out, also meant being that close to the whale reward buckets which were, of course, filled with loads of dead fish. *pinches nose*

After breakfast, we had scheduled the dolphin interaction. First, we underwent a classroom orientation with a question and answer session, and then we donned wet suits and headed out into the water. We had to stay on a ledge that was about 4 feet deep, where we were instructed on hand signals, which we in turned gave to the dolphins. We were able to touch, kiss and play with the dolphins. They are such beautiful animals and each one had such different personalities and talents. It was a learning experience, but it was also incredibly fun & memorable.

Following that, we wandered around the park, eventually heading over to Shamu stadium where we had our Showtime Picnic. For $14, we each got a picnic lunch and reserved seats for the show. I’ve always been impressed with that price, because $14 per person, when considering theme park food prices, is quite a bargain. Later that afternoon, we were able to also see the Dolphin Show, Sea Lion & Otter show, and Pets Rule show. We also took a swing on the sky ride, fed the sting rays, fed the Sea Lions, visited the Manitee exhibit and the Arctic exhibit. If you’re exhausted from reading that, just imagine actually doing it!

Click for Pictures.

Sunday’s summary will be forthcoming soon. Don’t worry… it’ll be worth it!

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